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Ukraine's president approves Caspian oil route bypassing Russia

KIEV, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a decree approving a project to transit Caspian oil to Europe bypassing Russia, the presidential website said on Thursday.

The Euro-Asian oil transport corridor project includes the use of the crude oil pipeline between the Ukrainian cities of Odessa on the Black Sea coast and Brody near the Ukrainian-Polish border, which Ukraine started building in 2001.

The pipeline was originally planned to reach the Polish city of Gdansk to transport Caspian oil to the rest of Europe. However, as sufficient amounts of oil supplies were not agreed, Ukraine accepted Russia's proposal in 2004 to reverse the pipeline flow, sending it south to the Black Sea and further on to Southern and Central Europe.

Yushchenko's decree also stipulates the need to consider involving Belarus, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Russia in the project.